Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Bright Side: Things I'm Looking Forward To

So there's bad news (no more quarterly installments from Perfumes: the Guide) but, hey, cheer up, there's plenty of good news, too. The fragrance industry is full of same old /same old (Another fruity floral--for moi? You...shouldn't have.) but every once in a while there are little glimmers of hope which manage to capture my attention. Here's where I'm finding the silver lining lately:

YSL Parisienne

I'm a big fan of Paris. Dirty secret: I layer the edp with patchouli (Patchouli Antique, Molinard, Comme des Garçons Luxe, Demeter). As anyone who even cursorily scans this blog knows, I'm an even bigger Sophia Grojsman fan. So the news that Paris is being updated or reinterpreted is music to my ears. There have been flankers (between 1999 and 2007: Paris Premieres Roses, Paris Roses de Bois, Paris Roses Enchantees, Paris Roses des Vergers Springtime, Paris Jardins Romantiques, and, more remotely affiliated, Baby Doll Paris) and others outside the corporate auspices of YSL have tried to approximate the original's greatness, but nothing comes close to that dew-drenched, violet colored rose marinated in wine.

I might be very much bored by yet another mainstream rose release, were it not for the participation of Grojsman. I'm not yet sure what kind of influence collaborator Sophie Labbe will have on the fragrance. I haven't been crazy about much if anything she's done up to now. But the description gets my mind racing. Damask rose, violet, peony, patchouli, and vetiver are nothing to shout about. But "a vinyl accord evoking metal gloss and varnish"? Someone's been paying attention to the more avant garde sectors of niche perfumery. While I doubt Parisienne will be anything close to Secretions Magnifiques, it is at least embracing an imaginative arena which moves beyond the tried and true, welcoming a broader range of fantasy projection from its consumer.


I have several bottles of Halston, and like them all, though I do notice differences. I have what appears to be parfum extrait from the early eighties, a cologne from a little later, and an edt I purchased last year at the mall for twenty bucks. Bernard Chant is credited with the original Halston, which I remember fondly from 1975. My sister and her friends wore it, and for a long time I couldn't smell it without conjuring a vision of her pink calico canopy bed. Regardless, it seemed very adult to me at the time--picture Carol King's Tapestry album playing in the background (everyone was listening to it; did any of us have a clue what she was really talking about?) --more so than Anais Anais, which came out three years later and seemed practically juvenile by comparison, custom made to match my sister's teenage bedroom decor.

The trend for reviving old fragrances with newer materials and a different, more ostensibly modern approach reminds me of the film industry's penchant for remaking classics. Sometimes the talent and the magic are there, and the results are a welcome surprise (see, say, Down and Out in Beverly Hills). Sometimes, you get a shrill, grasping approximation, an attempt to fix what wasn't broken (see Annette Benning and Meg Ryan in The Women, or Steve Carell in Get Smart). The Halston I know and love--all versions--is or was wonderfully woody, with weird herbal, mossy, and floral streaks zig-zagging through its structure and a bedrock warmth unique to Chant.

Elizabeth Arden now holds the license to market Halston fragrances, and has appointed perfumer Carlos Benaim to refashion the original Halston perfume--as a floriental. I don't remember anything like black currant in Bernard Chant's chypre, but this combination might just do the trick of approaching the original's strange contrasts at the very least.

Encre Noire Pour Elle

Basenotes reports that Christine Nagel, the nose behind one of my favorite fragrances, Encre Noire, has created a version for the ladies, Pour Elle. This will be news to many women I know, who claim Encre Noire as their own in a sublimely uncomplicated way. For me, there's such an exciting charge involved in crossing the aisle to grab a bottle of perfume in my fist. I use it not just to subvert or disregard boring gender codes and boundaries but to enter into an imaginative space few in the fragrance industry think to provide my sex entry into. I think many women must feel the same. For years they've been grabbing cologne off the bathroom shelf, walking around in someone else's pants. Hearing about Encre Noire Pour Elle, part of me inwardly sighs. Here's the line, it says. Let's not get out of control here. Let's all keep our seats.

Then again, it's Christine Nagel, she of the wondrous Fendi Theorema, Miss Dior Cherie, A*Men Pure Coffee, Armani Prive Ambre Soie, Yves Rocher Rose Absolue, and John Galliano (you might not like it so much. I happen to love it). "Why should rose be for females and vetiver for males?" She asked in a recent interview. "Who decides this?" The answer is in the question. There is a vetiver for females. It's called Encre Noire. And Rose Absolue smells great on me.

Fath de Fath

I have it on good authority that one of the biggest detriments to the success of Fath de Fath was its packaging. The bottle leaked. I'm inclined to believe this, as a bottle I bought my mother leaked in transit, one of only two perfumes I've known to do so. Ask me some time about my flight from Greece last year and the leaky bottle of Luxe Patchouli. I made many friends on that packed airplane, I can tell you.

Where did I read about a reorchestration of Fath de Fath? I'm guessing it was Nowsmellthis. Some faint ghost of the infamous Iris Gris is also rumored to be in the works. My hopes are set higher for Fath de Fath, as there's less room to screw it up. Fath de Fath was a lovely balance of fruit and woods, though the pyramid provided by osmoz lists nothing much which could be misconstrued as woodsy, per se. Pear and tuberose do odd things together in Fath de Fath. Were there musks and civet in this 1994 composition? If so, they won't be resurrected. Still, the Benzoin Fath de Fath contained had a lot to do with the fragrance's chemistry, and no one has banned benzoin yet--or have they?


Another re-release from Robert Piguet, Futur has been brought back from the past. I don't really care what they've done to it. Baghari and Visa were revisited with sensitivity and imagination. I own both and love them. If also by Aurelien Guichard, the Futur, I predict, will look just as good. From the Piguet website:

"She is witty, outspoken, and supremely confident. Her style is effortless. Her fragrance intensely feminine."

Here we go again. She, she, she. The company calls Futur a green woody floral fragrance, which just about covers the bases this side of oriental. I repeat: I do not care. I have Fracas, Bandit, and the afore-mentioned Visa and Baghari. I want a little army of those black block bottles, with their Bauhaus font and packaging.

Aramis Gentleman's Collection

What could be more exciting than the re-release of eight classic Aramis masculines? JHL alone is more than anyone can ask for. Add to this Devin, New West, Aramis 900, and Tuscany (the remaining two will not be sold in the U.S.). And fantastic pricing. 100 ml at 48 bucks seems downright old fashioned. There are fanatical attachments to Havana all over the blogs. I haven't smelled it and can't say why--though birch tar, coriander, and leather is all I need to hear. Get at me in September. 900 is a fantastic, feral rose, Chant's inversion of Aromatics Elixir. Devin is Aliage in a tux.

I owned a bottle of JHL back in the early eighties and was very pleased with myself, but until recently, when I came across a few fugitive bottles in a remote department store, I couldn't remember why. Smelling it again, I knew. In case you've never smelled JHL, imagine Youth Dew making love to after shave. I'm guessing I loved it so much because it was the best of both worlds, masculine and feminine, a fragrance through which I could bring the worlds of my divorced parents back together.


Anonymous said...

Your lovely post makes me see a silver lining too. I hope Futur does not disappoint, since I fall readily in love with perfume names.

Didn't Estee Lauder once make a Tuscany per Uomo? I wonder what relation that bore to their Aramis line's Tuscany. Speaking of EL, have you tried wearing Youth Dew yourself? I think it would be delicious on a man, but the men I know are too timid to try.

Hoping that at least some of your expectations are met,

Brian said...

Hi Gretchen,

I DO wear Youth Dew--edt and bath oil (a steal for what amounts to parfum extrait). Estee Lauder, if I'm not mistaken, holds the license for Aramis. Weirdly, Tuscany Uomo and Donna are the only Aramis fragrances they stock at the Estee Lauder counter.

Piguet's website says Futur is now available. Yet I've seen it nowhere. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

Halston was my first perfume (c. 1984), and the one I bought around 1998 still moves me.

It was a heady time -- I fell in love for the first time, went to university... one whiff, and I am back. To lose that scent, no matter how lovely the recreation, is heartbreaking.

Haven't had much luck turning up a vintage source-


Tania said...

You're right, those are 'reasons to be cheerful', right enough!

I was in Liberty on Friday, no Futur there yet. I look forward to trying it. I too love Visa, Bandit and Fracas, and I am eyeing up Baghari.

Ah yes, the tragedy of leaky bottles! I lost an entire bottle of Angel Innocence because it was stored on it's side, the top must have been leaky. My Sisley Eau de Soir, correctly stored and capped, evaporated so fast that the bottle was empty within a month of purchase. And Czech & Speake Neroli soaks my spraying hand with every squirt. Most annoying!

dea said...

Hey there,

They featured Futur during the Spring Sniffa this year. There was a special champagne party thing at Spafumerie in NYC with Futur and other Piguets on display.

Futur, if I remember correctly, was a darkish green and slightly bitter scent. That was from the bottle, I didn't put any on skin. I was too entranced with Visa, a new discovery for me! So, so great in chilly weather.

In my experience, I think the Halston bath oil, like Youth Dew and Norell, is a closer match with the vintage formula than the colognes & edts.